EU hopes Venezuela reconsiders expulsion of German ambassador

BRUXELLES, Belgium – The European Union said Thursday, March 7, it hopes Venezuela will reconsider its expulsion of the German ambassador as the EU seeks to maintain communication lines with the feuding sides.

President Nicolas Maduro's government on Wednesday, March 6, ordered Germany's ambassador Daniel Kriener to leave the country for "interference" in its internal affairs. He had greeted returning opposition leader Juan Guaido at Caracas airport.

"We regret the fact that the German ambassador to Venezuela is pressed to leave the country in spite of a tense and complex political context," said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

"The European Union has been keen to maintain lines of communication with all key parties in Venezuela including the government of Mr. Maduro," she told a press conference in Brussels.

"And from that perspective the European Union hopes that this decision can be reconsidered," Kocijancic said. "We remain strongly committed to a peaceful and democratic solution to the current crisis in Venezuela."

She recalled the EU's leading role in setting up the international contact group, where she said Germany plays an "active" role.

Guaido – recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries – said Kriener's expulsion will be seen "as a threat to the free world."

Kriener was among more than a dozen foreign representatives who welcomed the National Assembly leader, but so far the only one deemed "persona non grata."

Kriener had tried to help bring humanitarian aid to the country, Guaido said in a speech to opposition lawmakers, adding: "It seems that the Maduro regime does not forgive anyone who wants to help Venezuela."

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that kicking Kriener out only "aggravates the situation."

The European Union last month condemned Caracas for its use of armed supporters and violence to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid into Venezuela. –